The picture above is of the front seat of my once beloved Isuzu Trooper. On New Year's day, while driving between my parents home in Richmond and my sister's home in Northern Virginia, the engine lights on the trooper came on and when I stopped, there was smoke coming from the engine compartment. When I opened the hood, there was a fire in the engine. I rushed to get my son and niece, who were riding with me, out of the truck and we watched as the truck was engulfed in smoke and flames.
Yes, it was the mess you would expect. We lost some of our Christmas presents and everything we had - clothes, toys, everything, was encrusted with smoke damage and water damage. And try finding a rental car on New Year's day in Ladysmith, Va. It's not going to happen.
But as soon as we pulled over, two off duty police stopped. One, a kind woman from Tidewater, comforted my children, while the other worked with me as the fire department and state police arrived. After the flames were quelled, they helped me pack up the wet and charred suitcases and bags of gifts into the back of one of their cars. Everyone involved, from the firemen, to the state trooper, to the people who stopped just to help, were kind and helpful.
The boyfriend of one of the off duty police who stopped tried to find us a rental car place and hauled us and our messy belongings from place to place for an hour, then when it became clear we weren't going to find one, volunteered to drive all the way to Vienna, Virginia to my sister's home. They had plans to visit family, but never hesitated to offer their help and would not take anything for it.
I won't lie to you. It was scary. But the kids were champs, followed directions and got out fine. They were scared but did great. The Trooper is a total loss and we lost some gifts. I spent the day today getting a rental car so we could get home this weekend, and doing laundry, and sorting through the bags of smoked gifts.
But we gained something too. By yesterday evening they were contemplating the great "waht I did during my Christmas vacation" story they would have when they go back to school next week. And this morning as I woke, the kids had made up two incredibly wonderful cards thanking me for my cool head and keeping them safe in a scary time. The cards oozed love. Tonight they wrote cards to the couple that helped us out so much, and drove us to Vienna, and there is a real sense of gratefulness all around today. Lots of hugs all around all day. And... we saw kindness of the most unselfish kind at work, faith in action.
I'd have preferred to have not caught on fire and lost my old truck. I could have lived with a bit less adventure. But I can't call it a total loss. Like most things in life, things are lost, and other things are gained. God was watching over us in a big way, and it's good to be reminded that he is at work even in bad times.
PS - like most of my pictures, you can click on this one for a larger view. It's not as pretty as most of my shots, but it's something to remember.